Massively Overthinking: The New World comeback


New World is having a bit of a comeback moment – or is it?

Since the launch of Brimstone Sands and the fresh start servers over the last few weeks, we’ve been keeping an eye on Amazon’s 2021 MMO as it appears to pulling itself out of a serious summer slump to a new high concurrency for the year. Of course, it isn’t even touching the soaring heights of its launch – but few MMOs ever do.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m asking our writers and readers to reflect on what’s going on in New World right now. Did the recent patches and new servers bring you or anyone you know back to the game? Is it enough to keep players around long term? Is it enough to sustain Amazon’s development of the game going forward? Is New World making a comeback, or is this its last hurrah?

Andy McAdams: I also really hope it’s a comeback. While I haven’t picked it up since the update, it’s only because I’m already playing other things. But it definitely moved up the list for me. My gaming group really enjoyed it, but it was that mid-level wall that killed us, plus an over-reliance on territory warfare that was at once overly complicated, too simplistic, and utterly devoid of engagement if you weren’t in a mega-guild. It’s not a perfect game, and I think my assessment when it came out was this: It has good bones. And I think the assessment still stands for me.

I think the fact that there was a comeback at all shows that people really want to play this game and have it succeed and that there’s something special there. We’ve seen a lot of other games blunder out of the gate and try to make a comeback, but the MMOsphere collectively goes “meh” and moves on. I think this comeback shows there’s something worth investing it, and that how I think Amazon Games will see it too — even when the population inevitably dips again.

I think they still need to figure out monetization because random, kinda ugly-looking armor isn’t going to entice me to spend more money. I don’t think New World has quite figured out how get a balanced cash shop with things folks actually want to spend money on. Which is understandable – it’s hard.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I’m actually pretty impressed that somebody over at Amazon was willing to give AGS the time and money to turn the game around – several times, frankly, if we’re counting pre-launch too. We’ve seen several top dogs toppled over there, including Mike Frazzini, and I wasn’t sure the will to save New World was in ’em. Maybe Lost Ark bought them some time. Either way, I think there’s potential to grow if they can just stick the landing. I want to see much, much more noise about future content, including large-scale content plans, not just small patches, because it needs expansions, not just patchwork updates. And I want to see hard talk out of the studio about the game’s business model and its longterm prospects because I don’t see sustainability or profitability there.

That said, I have a few guildies, including my husband, back in the game. My son’s been playing (chat off, of course), and I even reinstalled it to be a looky-loo. That’s already more than I ever really expected a year ago when I left.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): I’m always rooting for the dedicated players of an MMO, no matter what game it is. I don’t play New World, but this sounds like a big win for the players! I certainly hope Amazon takes advantage of the momentum. Amazon is not some small indie company, and it gave the resources to keep the ball rolling for this game. As long as they stay the course, focus on small incremental changes, and create engaging content for their players, then I think New World is in a great position.

Also, hopefully they don’t just randomly close the game.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): First off, I can’t really speak to how sustainable New World is from a fiscal standpoint, but I will at least assume it’s not; while Amazon certainly has all of the money, even that company will demand ROI at some point.

I can personally speak about the game as a recently returned player and can affirm that New World has made a great second impression. Much of the moment to moment gameplay still feels great, but the leveling also feels improved, the way it all starts is nice, and the greatsword is a fantastic addition to the weapons pool. Also, instruments, which are way more fun than I anticipated.

Of course, it’s not perfect by any stretch, the crafting still feels kind of humdrum, and I do have to wonder if I will feel similarly at cap, but I also am not in a hot stinking rush to get that far anyway. This will ideally mean that late-game pursuits will also feel better by the point I get that far. Also, ideally, they’ll add an actual dungeon group finder instead of a notice board UI.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): You know, I really hope it’s a comeback. I really enjoyed the game at launch. I even enjoyed it for a while post launch. It was one of only two games I felt like I could play and enjoy as a duo. Then of course those middle levels ground everything to a halt, along with the weird dungeon lock outs. (At least I think that’s what requiring those orbs to enter do. I can’t remember, but I do recall it being a drag.)

I was also really looking forward to the arena mode Amazon added, except it fumbled that execution too. I plan on getting back in there myself, but there was no chance I’d wait in a queue at this point. Hopefully when I do launch it again, that’ll be cleared.

For me it really boils down to whether or not the time to get to endgame has been reduced to a reasonable time. It’s one thing when a game has plenty of activities and content that you can level up without feeling like you run into a cliff face, where the only way past that cliff is to grind your way over or around but you don’t even have the quests or tools to do that grind.

The word around the office here is that it is better. I guess we’ll see. If it is, the game will be fine. If Amazon continues to try to make getting to the fun part of the game a chore, then I imagine it’ll fall back down again.

Tyler Edwards (blog): As someone who never really left the game, it’s been interesting watching the greater gaming community gradually realize what those of us in the game have known for months: that the game has come a long way in a short time. I am glad that word of mouth spread enough for people to give the game another look. A lot of games launch rough and are never given a second chance, even if they do all the right things to address their issues. The advantage of Amazon’s clout and budget is that it can survive a rough start like that.

I expect we’ll see a bit of a population drop-off as the hype from the new servers and Brimstone fades, but I think the numbers will still be significantly stronger than they were during the game’s worst doldrums. While it still has some rough edges, and I can see some potential storm-clouds on the horizon, I’m fairly optimistic about New World’s future. It’s probably too niche to ever become top dog in the MMO genre, but I think it’s going to develop a solid and devoted fanbase that will keep it alive for the foreseeable future.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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